Yahoo's (YHOO) second quarter earnings were a disappointment to investors. Results announced after the close on Tuesday showed revenue after traffic acquisition expenses was down 3 percent year-over-year. Earnings per share dropped by 15 percent.
The decline included a 7 percent drop in the critical category of display ad revenue, which had seen the first improvement in years the prior quarter. Also a disappointment to some investors -- the company negotiated a drop in the number of Alibaba shares it would sell in an IPO later this year, from 208 million to 140 million shares. That means less cash coming into the company.
Speaking on the eve of her second anniversary as CEO, former Google (GOOG) executive Marissa Mayer said that she was "not happy" with the results. Clearly investors weren't either. The stock price fell about 5 percent on Wednesday.
Mayer was seen as a breath of fresh air when she was named CEO of Yahoo. And the company's stock is up more than 128 percent since she took over, despite being down this year.
However, Mayer has reached the point in a turnaround CEO's tenure when investors expect to see promised improvements show up.
To be sure, Yahoo is a particularly difficult patient. Although its properties have one of the highest levels of user traffic in the world, Yahoo is more a collection of individual properties than it is a unified company with single strategy. It started as a directory of resources and became a collection of diverse properties, such as Yahoo Finance, e-mail, and the image service Flickr.
Now Mayer wants to turn Yahoo into a media company and has been investing in original content and high-priced talent (new episodes of the show TV Community are an example, as was hiring Katie Couric).
If Mayer can't show her strategy is working in the next few quarters, it is likely she'll be replaced and then the next CEO will have little choice but to break up the company, sell off the parts, and call it a day. Investors who are rooting for Mayer are clearly hoping for a different result. It's going to take a couple more quarters of nail-biters before the outcome is clear.